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From the MAN BOOKER PRIZE and WOMENS PRIZE SHORTLISTED author of Swing Time, White Teeth andOn Beauty a masterful and intimate novel of modern London lifeA triumph Every sentence sings GuardianIntensely funny, richly varied, always unexpected A joyous, optimistic, angry masterpiece Daily TelegraphSmiths most satisfying novel Funny, sexy, weird, full of acute social comedy Shes up there with the best around Evening Standard Zadie Smiths brilliant tragicomic NW follows four Londoners Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan after theyve left their childhood council estate, grown up and moved on to different lives From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their city is brutal, beautiful and complicated Yet after a chance encounter they each find that the choices theyve made, the people they once were and are now, can suddenly, rapidly unravel Funny, poignant and vividly contemporary, NW is as brimming with vitality as the city itself

8 thoughts on “NW (English Edition)

  1. Alfred Thum Alfred Thum says:

    The book is about an ethnically mixed modest quarter of London The people who live there are very different in social standard, habits, clothing, religion and philosophy Consequently, a novel about them has to be multi cultural, a multi coloured crossover.The book begins with a woman, called Leah, in her thirties, goes then back to her childhood and adolescence and returns at the end to her situation at the beginning of the book The second principal character is Keisha, a Nigerian originated woman of the same age They are growing in the neighbourhood and are bound together by an accident where the mother of Keisha rescues Leah They feel friends by destiny This feeling remains all the childhood, youth and adultness, but with big ups and downs There are moments in their lives when it would be very convenient for the one or the other to move away from the quarter, but they decide against In their job which they are practicing in the recent time, each in her place, they deal with difficult social situations Leah distributes Lottery money to poor people, Keisha who changed her name in Nathalie works as a tenant in the same district.Telling the story of the two women means in a first step describing their families, in the following steps their college mates, lovers and eventually their partners with whom they start their families Nevertheless, it s not enough for the author Zadie Smith She weaves other stories in the fabric of the quarter, casual stories with other people who come in touch only for a while, but say significant things about a biotope of delinquency, of drug abuse and recovery, about social ambition and contempt and about the incomprehensibly chaotic sexuality.The organisation of the whole storytelling material cannot avoid, even needs plenty of unplanned events and encounters because the real life in a multicultural quarter of inequality is exactly so chaotic and confused.Just seeing the chapter titles the reader wonders what is the logic behind them In the first part the chapters are numbered in a normal way, but only till chapter 15 After chapter 15 comes chapter 37 And after 37 it goes ahead with 16 and 17 interrupted once by 37 Then it continues till chapter 22 which is followed by 37 After that there are no numbers any , but the words guest and then host as titles Towards the end after crossing follow as titles several street names in the neighbouring quarter where there live well established people.The numbered chapters in the beginning are part of the frame story Leah is a woman in the thirties and lives with her husband Michel, a francophone black immigrant Their relationship is on the whole harmonious, but there are two problems unresolved Firstly, Michel wants children and she doesn t She deceives him taking the contraception pill without his knowledge Secondly, Michel is ambitious to climb up the social ladder he would like to become rich by making online affairs and to leave this quarter of modest people Leah has a distinct social vein, a helper syndrome, and becomes easily victim of frauds, for example when she gives money to a drug addicted girl believing her story of a sick mother in a far hospital She has no intention to leave a quarter where the need of help is evident This gives sense to her own life.The frame story is resumed at the end of the novel when Michel detects the deception of Leah and is profoundly shocked Leah herself is in a depressive, unresponsive lockdown and Michel has to call Nathalie for help.Nathalie herself is living a tough period in her family life She, too, is detected by her husband in a hidden activity, in a sexual aberrance There is no solution, because he refuses any communication, so she cannot excuse or justify The relationship seems to be broken for ever.The chapter Guests begins at the end of the first part of the frame story What does this chapter mean Why does the author introduce three characters whom she lets apart afterward Is it only for showing different life careers in this part of poorer London, where the drugs are a big temptation for young people to drift out from their family and school misery Felix is an example of a young man who falls deep and later having grown a lot creeps out of the drug s hell He discovers a professional chance to buy vintage cars, to repair and make them brilliant and to sell them for a much higher price.He knows that his new stability is every time in danger, a drug addict can have a relapse and this occurs actually when he goes visiting his former girlfriend It happens a total breakdown of his new self The former girlfriend is a convinced drug addict She wants to live a burning life and is ready to die in the flames.Tom who sells an old car to Felix, has a job in the financial field and has problems with his girlfriend, a spoiled young woman, full of pretentions and criticisms towards him.The chapter Hosts is the principal part of the novel and describes childhood, youth and early adulthood of Leah and Keisha later Natalie There are fundamental differences in the family culture and education principles Leah is a single child of an earth grown family Keisha has Nigerian parents, strong Catholics, and two siblings Keisha works hard at school for getting the best grades Leah is not at all ambitious.There seems to be no happy ending for either couple Nathalie s relationship is broken apart On the other side the ideas of partnership and family life between Leah and Michel are very far from each other.The reader accepts that there is no definite solution It makes sense, the novel is a testimony of a complicated social life in a savagely mixed part of London and has to be not linear but chaotic The friendship between Leah and Nathalie is something that seems very strong and stable a metaphysical strength, the will of a destiny, is the indestructible link between them.The immigrants and their children make a multi coloured biotope Ambition and hard work to reach the self defined goals are the cement for integration and the protection against the temptations of drugs Nathalie and Michel embody the right way to a responsible citizenship and a rather good life Nathan fails he is seduced by the easy way to make money with drugs and ends as a criminal Others like Felix fell in the trap, but found a way to free themselves from the fetters of the drug though living with the big danger of recidivism.This portrait of a popular quarter of a big town is a huge task The result is sympathetic and empathetic, sensual, chaotic, critic, without mercy, but full of love for these complicated human beings.

  2. Michele S Michele S says:

    Read a couple of chapters and can already tell its great

  3. says:

    not the best Zadie Smith but still a good read

  4. Heather Heather says:

    edit As a Londoner this book struck a chord in me and after reading a few of the reviews slating it, I feel the desire to explain why This isn t my type of literature, far from it, but I found myself drawn in Zadie Smith has captured the language and dialect of several generations, to the point that I was transported back 14 years to high school I remember people using terms like long and blud, I remember people like the characters of NW.The reason for the low rating is that while the novel was compelling, as mentioned it was not my cup of tea But mostly it was incredibly depressing Is that what we all have to look forward to in adult hood Or is that just the vision of those who do not dream of something else, something better

  5. Book fiend Book fiend says:

    It took me quite a long time to get my head around the rap style of writing with no clear definition of who is speaking the character in question or the author as the descriptions merge into the conversations and are very much in the vernacular style of north west London Kilburn and similar areas However, the author is magically observant and once you get into the style of writing, you can identify whole heartedly with the characters and their situations even if you don t wholly sympathise with them It s a book to read when you can give it than ten minutes so that you can get into the mood and follow the storyline It s not my world at all and it isn t the sort of book I would normally choose, but it is a highly intelligent, entertaining and clever piece of writing that paints a very real picture of a community It s outside my comfort zone, and maybe many other people s a very good thing to be bounced into reading something quite different Recommended.

  6. hr7 hr7 says:

    The story centres around particular characters in northwest London, the characters are very true to life, subtle traits with complex personalities ultimately fighting for identity and striving to reach goals they think they want or are expected to reach As a result it feels very real, no hyperbole no cheese either.The centre of the story is undoubtedly london The author defines and creates London just as it is, which as a Londoner was great to read London defines each of the characters, their personalities, goals, friends and and it is ultimately the one consistent aspect to all their lives, despite the unpredictability of what it offers The passion zadie smith has for London jumps out of the pages and describes it better than any other novelist I have read so far.

  7. Bobbie Bobbie says:

    Zadie Smith s NW follows four Londoners Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan after they ve left their childhood council estate and moved on into their lives It is very, very accomplished Her dialogue is to die for and repays reading aloud e.g Phil Barnes s brilliant soliloquy pp.111 et seq , and Natalie in particular is a great, poignant creation However I didn t understand what all the clever structuring and playing with punctuation, etc, added It made it often tricky to follow, which lessened rather than increasing my involvement Some of the obliqueness was pleasing, but much of it felt like literary muscle flexing and could lose many readers Also it masked questions about plot and character that stretch credibility, e.g Why doesn t Leah just have the important conversation up front with her husband, who loves her to bits We are never told.

  8. Ferdinand Po Ferdinand Po says:

    In view of the author s reputation I was surprised to find that there was nothing in this book to hold my interest, perhaps because the characters lives are so far outside my own experience of life I felt no affinity with any of them.